Treadmill vs Elliptical for Toning Muscles: Which One is Better?

Treadmill Vs Elliptical For Toning

If you have a better understanding of how an elliptical machine and treadmill work, you will be able to meet your fitness goal. For most people, while losing weight is the primary goal, toning muscles remains a fundamental part of the process. In fact, even without losing much weight, users of these machines end up toning muscles.

The question is: between treadmill and elliptical, which machine is better for toning muscles? I bet this is a conversation that will not result is an outright winner. The fundamental reason is both devices will tone your muscles though in varied ways.

Treadmill vs Elliptical for Toning Muscles

Treadmills have been in user for a longer time as compared to the elliptical trainers. The fact that many people found a treadmill as an alternative to running or jogging in the outsides environment made the treadmill a famous tool. However, with time, the elliptical trainers became more popular due to the whole body workout they give and are cheaper than a treadmill.

Besides, elliptical trainers are more comfortable because they have less impact on the joints. This makes them better for people with joint problems. While using the elliptical trainer, your feet never leave the paddle. This gives a lower impact on the knee.

On the other hand, a treadmill offers a surface for you to run, jog, or walk. It is essentially a belt that moves to enable the imitation of natural stride and impact of walking, jogging or running. Such movements usually have a tremendous effect on the joints, especially the knee.

The Treadmill
Merax Electric Folding Treadmill - Easy Assembly Fitness Motorized Running Jogging Machine with Speakers for Home Use, 12 Preset Programs (Black)
  • Save

On a treadmill, you imitate natural walking or running. The advantage of this trainer is that it comes with different programs that you can set to your level of training. Such a feature makes it a versatile tool for toning muscles.

Moreover, a treadmill has the capabilities to be inclined at different angles. This makes it possible to adjust the intensity of your workout accordingly. If you set your inclination at a higher level, you increase the intensity of training, hence higher muscle toning.

Put in mind that when you run at a higher speed on your treadmill, you also engage the circulatory system. So, the flow of blood in your body is enhanced. So, a treadmill can give you an excellent cardio workout session. That boosts metabolism hence burning more calories.

To get effective results out of your treadmill exercises, you’ll need to use it for quite some time. And, ensure you set a particular fitness level that suits your fitness for you to lose weight and tone muscles without injuring yourself. To burn the calories, you must feel the burn while you use your treadmill. Treadmills can cause injuries if you do not use them well.

A treadmill is an excellent option for seasoned runners and joggers.

The Elliptical Trainer
Fast 88 Portable Elliptical Machine Fitness Workout Cardio Training Machine, Magnetic Control Mute Elliptical Trainer with LCD Monitor, Elliptical Machine Trainer (Black)
  • Save

Similar to a treadmill, an elliptical trainer emulates the strides of natural walking and jogging. What sets the two apart is the little impact on the knee that you’ll experience when using the elliptical machine. The paddles can move both backward and forward. The backward movement is right or higher intensity training as it targets a group of different muscles.

Peddling backward might sound tricky, but is it is very safe. This is a feature of many modern elliptical cross-trainers. If by chance your model lacks this feature, you can improvise: just turn around i.e., face backward and peddle.

How safe is it to run backward on your treadmill? It can be a dangerous exercise, especially if you are just a beginner.

An advantage that an elliptical trainer has over the treadmill is the added training to your arms thanks to the movable arms. The movable arms of the elliptical cross trainer increase the intensity of your training and target your upper arms in addition to the lower body. So, this machine offers you a full-body workout.

The market has numerous brands of elliptical trainers. While some have preset programs, others lack such features. The machines with preset programs are versatile as they offer you different intensities as you train. Besides, you get a wide variety of options in your workout sessions.

The best part with the elliptical trainer is that you train harder than you think because you do not feel the impact on your joints. This makes it a comfortable trainer than the treadmill.

Target Muscles for the Treadmill and Elliptical

The results you get from using these trainers depend on how versatile they are. So, treadmill vs elliptical for toning muscles, which works better? In summary, these trainers work on a different group of muscles.

Most people vouch for the elliptical machine for the reason that it has the capabilities of moving backward and forward, targeting a larger group of muscles. Besides, the arms holders offer training to the upper arms.

On the other hand, treadmills only move in the forward direction but offer inclines. You have limited options using this machine. If you use it is a backward manner, it might cause injuries due to falls.

Let’s look at muscles they tone.

· Lower body

Both machines work excellently for the lower body muscles. They effectively tone the hip muscles, glutes, and leg muscles. Also, the machines can engage your abs and lower back muscles, but not effectively. If you want to tone your abs effectively, you’ll need to add a workout plan for your midsection.

However, the treadmill can be a better tool if you want to focus on the quadriceps, hip flexors, and hamstrings. Mayo Clinic states that an elliptical machine works well if your focus is toning the calf and hamstrings. If you pedal backward on an elliptical cross trainer, you fully engage the lower part of your leg.

Remember, the machines offer different setting levels. For instance, if you increase resistance on the pedals, you increase the impact on your body. The pedals become hard to push, which helps in toning your muscles. On the other hand, while using the treadmill, you can increase the incline to benefit more.

· Upper body

The elliptical trainer carries the day is you intend to tone your upper body. This machine has arm bars which you hold and move them along with the rest of your body. Such movements engage your biceps, triceps, and shoulder muscles.

On a treadmill, the best you can do is to swing your arms. As far as I am concerned swing your arms can’t tone muscles unless you are carrying some weights. The best you get from this is a cardio workout.

How to Get Better Results with the Treadmill and the Elliptical Trainer

Whichever tool you choose for your training, you must get the most out of it. Let’s look at the treadmill vs. elliptical for toning details.

Treadmill: this machine works well for the lower body muscles, i.e., the quads and hamstring. You adjust settings to get a tougher workout for faster results. To do so, you’ll need to increase the intensity. When you increase the inclination to about 10 percent, you emulate a hill. That means you’ll be running on a hill.

When you run uphill, you significantly recruit all the muscles of the lower body. According to a publication in the journal of applied physiology, running uphill engages glutes more than those running on a horizontal surface.

Elliptical: to get better muscle toning on this machine, you’ll need to increase the resistance rather than the inclination. Resistance simply implies you will need to exert more power to initiate pedaling. At such levels, you are engaging your leg muscles fully – glutes and quads.

Strength Training

As you work out on these machines, your primary intentions are to strengthen the muscles. Each machine performs to its level best. However, a treadmill is a better option if you want to try strength training. The treadmill has numerous features that allow different settings for a perfect workout. The inclination and speeds adjustment can enable you to work towards your goals.

Nevertheless, the elliptical is a powerhouse when it comes to building strength. It is the best machine you can use for your whole body. And if you want interval training, look no further than an elliptical machine.

Proper usage of the elliptical can tremendously increase the strength of your core and give you full-body stability, something that even a modern treadmill won’t give you.


If the debate of treadmill vs. elliptical for toning muscles is still your concern, you’d better stop it and make a decision. In many ways, the equipment is pretty much similar when it comes to muscle toning.

High-level training requires high-level equipment. A modern elliptical with movable arms gives you a full body workout something you won’t get from a treadmill unless you improvise. If you only are looking to tone your lower body muscles and get a cardio workout a basic elliptical and a treadmill can offer that.

Your personal choices and preferences determine the type of equipment that best works for you. A treadmill can be very uncomfortable if you have joint problems hence making an elliptical a better option.

Elliptical Trainers Check Latest Price

Best Treadmills Check Latest Price

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Leave a Comment

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap